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Myths About Radiation and Radon in Granite

Written by Posted On Friday, 18 August 2017 11:19

Correcting Inaccuracies in the "Countertops Get Creative" AP Story

May 2014 -- An AP article named "Countertops Get Creative" was written by Diana Marszalek on May 28, 2014. In her discussion about kitchen countertop trends, Marszalek claims that granite releases minuscule amounts of a radioactive gas, specifically radon. 

The average home has several sources of measurable radiation, such as bananas, Brazil nuts, concrete blocks, potatoes, smoke detectors and televisions. In comparison to granite countertops, these sources emit much higher radiation levels. The stone industry takes safety seriously, and an extensive number of studies confirm that granite is a safe material to use for home installations. 

Marszalek also quoted a corporate manager at Curtis Lumber named Tony Izzo. In the article, Izzo's quote asserted that quartz not only lacks granite's radon problem but also is less apt to harbor bacteria due to its porosity. However, studies on countertop materials led by the Hospitality Industry of Technology and Materials and O. Peter Snyder, Jr. show that granite and quartz have the same ability to harbor bacteria.

May 2014 -- AP released a revised version of "Countertops Get Creative" on May 29, 2014 that omitted the erroneous statements by Marszalek and Izzo. Another reissue of this article the following day contained a closing statement that said Izzo ascertains that trace amounts of radioactive radon gas are released from granite countertops. It further said that the Marble Institute of America states that many everyday items in the home emit radon and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency claims the majority of granite countertops are safe. 

Currently, there are three variations of "Countertops Get Creative." However, studies still demonstrate that granite is safe to use in homes. 

Quarry Workers Are Not at Risk of Radon Exposure

April 2014 -- Before extracting granite to make the countertops, facades and flooring that consumers covet, quarry workers blast or saw raw granite into blocks, so they can remove the blocks from the quarry and take them to a granite fabrication facility. Since rock and soil slowly emit radon gas over time, Cambridge, Massachusetts' Environmental Health & Engineering conducted a study to determine whether quarry workers are at greater risk of exposure to radon. 

The study shared the results of air-monitoring tests taken in a Vermont quarry, which was chosen for its natural background radon and depth. Researchers found that at every height tested, radon levels measured below 0.3 picocuries per liter, which is less than the United States' average concentration of background radon. 

Granite Fabrication Workers Are in No Danger of Radiation Exposure

March 2014 -- There are well over 10,000 people who are employed in various sectors of the granite industry, specifically fabrication facilities and installation companies. The sheer number of granite company owners and granite craftsmen is a strong indicator that there are no health risks associated with granite work. 

Environmental Health & Engineering lent strong support to this point in their study about radiation in granite fabrication facilities.

Granite Is a Frequently Studied Building Material

February 2014 -- There has never been a time when natural stone was not a mainstay in building and construction projects. 

From contemporary skyscrapers to cemetery mausoleums, granite's beauty, durability and versatility make it a popular stone choice. Although granite countertop competitors claim that granite is dangerous to people's health, there is no scientific data to support their assertions. 

To put the false rumors to rest, the stone industry extensively studied radon in granite slabs. They concluded that the occasional findings of insignificant amounts of radon in granite slabs pose no harm to humans' health. This research lends support to similar results from other relevant studies. 

Thorough and repeated testing of radon in granite produces the same indisputable conclusion - Granite used for home applications in the United States is safe. 

"The Doctors" Show Retracts Its Claims About Granite and Radon

November 2013 -- A segment on "The Doctor's" about radon emissions from granite countertops aired on October 24, 2013. The show claimed that the health risks of living in a home that has granite countertops are equivalent to the risks from smoking 10 cigarettes per day, and they credited this statement from findings by the United States Environmental Protection Agency. 

One week after the legal team for the Marble Institute of America supplied "The Doctor's" with numerous scientific studies that refute the television show's claim, the show's staff released a statement, admitting its error. The retraction further explained that the statement in question did not come from the EPA. 

The false claim made on "The Doctors" television show is one of many examples of how granite countertop competitors and radon testing companies try to pass off erroneous information as facts for financial gain. 

Basic Facts About Radiation and Radon

July 2011 -- Radon is a gas that naturally occurs in the environment. According to the United States Environmental Protection Agency, surrounding soil is the main radon source in an average home. Although the majority of radon dissipates, some radon may seep into the basement. Long-term exposure to high radon concentrations can cause lung cancer. The simple solution to this issue is a radon mitigation system.

There is no scientific evidence that indicates granite countertops cause high radon concentration in homes.

The sun is the primary source of radiation. An individual's radiation exposure varies according to where he lives. For example, a person who lives in Denver, Colorado is closer to the sun due to the city's high altitude. Conversely, someone who lives in Des Moines, Iowa is farther away from the sun. 

Smoke detectors, televisions, cement blocks, potatoes, bananas and Brazil nuts also emit radiation. Like granite countertops, these items are not harmful. 

Granite Facts - Putting Radon Fears to Rest

April 2009 -- There is no reason for consumers worry about fear-mongering media reports related to radon exposure from granite. 

The attractiveness and affordability of granite make it an overwhelmingly popular countertop choice for consumers. However, granite countertop competitors made a concerted effort to put doubts in consumers' minds about granite's safety by saying granite countertops emit dangerous levels of radon and radiation. 

Although commonly interchanged, radon and radiation are different. Radon is a naturally occurring gas found in the environment. Radiation comes from particles given off by radioactive substances such as the sun. Common sources of radon include soil around a home, well water and outdoor air. 

In 2008, over 400 stone samples were studied by the Environmental Health & Engineering firm. The researchers found that the majority of stones on the market emit virtually no radiation or radon, and none of the tested stones are a risk to consumers' health.

The data from this study led to standard protocols for granite countertop testing and data interpretation. Every home-use approved stone slab will have a signed Home Approved Stone label by the Marble Institute of America. 

Granite Countertops Produce Low Radon Emissions

November 2008 -- Environmental Health & Engineering conducted a large study on commonly used varieties of granite. The firm found that in comparison to outdoor background levels, people are exposed to much less radon emissions from granite. 

Taking into account the latest published and peer-reviewed research, Environmental Health & Engineering reports the following data:

- Radon emissions from granite are 3000 times lower than the EPA's recommended action level for indoor air.
- Radon emissions from granite are 1000 times lower than the average radon concentration in the air within homes in the United States. 
- Radon emissions from granite are 300 times lower than radon emissions from outdoor air.

The most up-to-date information shows that radon levels from granite countertops installed in homes are low compared to background levels.

What Are the Sources of Radon?

August 2008 -- Radon is found in the air and water as well as the soil and the sun. It is even present in rocks. Approximately 70 percent of radon comes from the soil that surrounds houses. This high percentage is a sharp contrast to the mere 2.5 percent of radon that comes from residential building materials. Therefore, the insignificant radon emissions from kitchen countertops have no bearing on the total amount of radon within a home's indoor air. 

Testing for Radon in Homes

July 2008 -- If you feel concerned about the possibility of radon in your house, you can conduct a radon level test. This test is easy, inexpensive and quick. The Surgeon General and the Environmental Protection Agency recommend that every consumer should test his home for radon. If high radon levels exist, the problem can be corrected.

Content sponsored by NAS Granite.

Listing Additional Info

  • State: New York
  • Address: 1358 EAST RIDGE ROAD ROCHESTER, NY 14621
  • City: Newyork
  • Zipcode: 14621
  • SOLD: no
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